This is amongst the most special Place Presents we will do all year, after we did the talks with Sasha Groshevoy & Kirill Korobkov, just days before the war we stayed in touch. Sasha has joined us in Berlin and is quickly becoming a fixture in our local scene. Because of the relationship we built, this part is dropping on our platform today. It wasn’t planned this way but it is prophetic because it mirrors Sasha’s travel through Ukraine to his new home in the German capital. As for Kostia Baranovskyi, we wondered what his story was, and so we reached out and talked to both men involved in Place Presents: Sasha Groshevoy – From Kharkiv to Kyiv & Berlin.

Interview by Roland Hoogwater.

Photos by Daniel Vaysberg.

Hey Guys, let’s start with the first question, when did you guys film this?

Sasha: We met each other one year ago at a spot in Kyiv, back then Kostia had just bought his first camera and we started to film immediately.  

 What was the hardest trick to film?

We think it was the line on the “I ❤️ KHARKIV” spot. The security guys there were super crazy and it was the “very last” “one more try” really;) 

Is there an idea behind putting it out now?

Sasha: We were planning to continue filming because the project is still a bit raw.

But we are putting it out now because the war started and Kostia can’t leave the country. 

 With the war going on now, hitting these cities, how is it to watch this footage back now?

Sasha:  Nostalgic. Like I am watching something more than just a video. I feel bad when I’m watching clips from Kharkiv, my hometown, which is one of the hardest-hit cities in the war and is quite a destroyed city now. 

Kostia: Awesome memories. This is my first serious project, my first plane trip, my first time in Berlin and Kharkiv, and during the filming of this I had my first sip of German beer.  I met Sasha about a year ago when I had just bought a camera. I had never tried to shoot anything, I didn’t even know if I liked filming (laughs), but during the process, I fell in love with it. During the past year, I’ve done a lot of things I’ve never done before! These new possibilities motivate me more and more. I want to do it all over again!

Almost all of the spots in Kyiv are still intact and local people are still skating there. The situation is different in Kharkiv. The city was badly damaged, some places were absolutely destroyed.

Kostia Baranovskyi, Kyiv, 2022.

 How many of these Ukrainian spots are still around and how many got destroyed?

Kostia: Almost all of the spots in Kyiv are still intact and local people are still skating there. The situation is different in Kharkiv. The city was badly damaged, some places were absolutely destroyed.

Sasha for you this video kind of documents your journey to your current home of Berlin, was that always the plan? Or did the war push you towards Germany?

Sasha: Yes, I was already planning to move to Berlin this summer. This war just hastened my plans. 

I left Ukraine on the 23rd of February, and the war started 5 hours after my plane landed (in Milan). I changed countries three times, but I knew the end point would always be Berlin. 

 Since arriving in Berlin, how has the welcome been? Positive, negative have you experienced hate against Ukrainians?

Sasha: For me it was positive. can’t talk for all Ukrainians who were forced to leave the country. 

 Kostia where are you living right now and how are you doing since the conflict started?

Kostia: I was born and raised in a small town 30km from Donetsk, where the war started back in 2014 and is happening still. I lived there up until 2020, one day I had the opportunity to move! For the last few years, I have been living in Kyiv. This year I faced the war for the second time in my life. I never thought the things that happened in Donetsk would happen in Kyiv too. It has been crazy to experience it all again. Either way, I am feeling positive, the truth always wins in the end. 

Why did you choose to stay in Ukraine or did the law force you to?

Kostia: According to the law, men of the conscription age can’t leave the country. During active combat operations in the Kyiv region, I went to Lviv for a while but I have returned to Kyiv now.

What role does skateboarding play in your life right now with all the stress that is going on?

Kostia: Skateboarding is one of the most important parts of my life, just like before the war. Skateboarding saves your mental health first of all, especially in the current situation we are in. You are not just distracted for a moment, but you forget what’s going on around you. Instead of worrying you just do your tricks and enjoy the opportunity to go skating even more.

Sasha: I agree with everything that Kostia said, skateboarding has really saved me. 

Thank you for doing this with us any last things you want to say?

Kostia: Thanks for the opportunity you have given us. It is great to be able to tell people a little bit about our work and the situation in Ukraine. We believe that peace will come soon, so we all can meet again, travel, film tricks, enjoy life and think only about good things, not about the wars!

Sasha: Slava Ukraini!

Read the pre-war interviews here: SashaKirill.